When I worked in cabinet making, using veneered boards required care. If veneer gets dented, chipped, or scratched it can be rendered useless. When sanding veneer, a bit too much enthusiasm and you can quickly sand through to the particle board or MDF. Veneer is generally around a millimetre thick making it easy to damage and difficult to repair. It looks nice, but in reality it merely hides what is underneath.
For decades western society has existed under the thin and fragile veneer of “cultural Christianity”. By cultural Christianity I mean a nominal Christian outlook – the morality and ethics of the Bible without Christ as king. Take Christ out of the picture however and morals and ethics have no basis; religion has no substance. If a king ceases to rule with power and authority, what eventually happens to the kingdom? It falls into disarray; order gives way to anarchy. As the saying goes – the lunatics take over the asylum.
Increasingly, it is evident that the lunatics are taking control. The veneer which provided a layer of decency and kept perversity subdued is being ruptured at a rapid rate. Christ is the Son of God and always in control, yet He gives people over to a debased mind (Rom 1). If they do not want Him as their king they can serve themselves and plunge further and further into the irrational and the obscene. The spiritual and moral decline of western society is itself the judgement of God. Professing to be wise they became fools and foolishness is what they are being given over to. People rejoice in the freedom to live how they like – they must then live with the mess they create. The prodigal son turned his back on his father, it led to pig swill.
It is into this atmosphere that we must present Christ – not merely the benefits of wholesome living, not championing social justice issues, not your best life now – but Jesus Christ. Society doesn’t need more veneer added to the veneer which is already crumbling. Society needs the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The message must be strong and clear – Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He lived and died for sinners, He conquered death through resurrection. It is only Christ who provides true meaning and hope. Apart from Christ we face the righteous, eternal judgement of God. To put it simply, we must preach the gospel and live out the gospel.
No Christian likes what is taking place in the west. There are genuine fears and concerns because cultural Christianity does have its benefits in terms of religious freedom, freedom of speech, societal standards, etc. Yet with its demise there are also opportunities. The darkness, confusion, and madness of the age provides the perfect environment for salt and light to do their work. Christians in the early church likewise faced persecution, false religion, and moral decay, and they went forth with the word of life. They didn’t hide away. They didn’t water the message down. They didn’t lobby politicians. They preached. And people were saved. There is no time like the present to serve the cause of Christ. In fact, there is no time but the present to serve the cause of Christ.